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2020s: AI and Machine Learning Offer Hope for the Future


We invited several leaders from Zscaler to comment on changes they anticipate in the decade ahead. This statement was submitted by Howie Xu, the Zscaler Vice President of AI and Machine Learning.

If this is the Wild West of the digital era, Beethoven is still jamming on his harpsichord when it comes to the world's standing in the AI realm. We are truly still at the infancy stage, and I predict a huge wave of innovation and results. In 10 years, I believe AI will have advanced to the point that it will increase the food supply, cure some cancers and other diseases, and resolve other seemingly intractable societal problems. The data is out there; we can’t analyze it all to create models and formulate solutions, but the machines can—and we’re just now getting results.

In the enterprise space, expect the same level of results. New machine learning algorithms will help security organizations sift through data, which will increase by an order of magnitude as a result of 5G. The ability to scale is the key advantage of machine learning. I start with this because with AI and machine learning, the more data the better.

Instead of focusing on fingerprinting to identify threats, we will need to focus on behavior, and machine learning will make that simpler and infinitely faster. But human instinct will, for the foreseeable future, play a critical role in defending against threats. Cybersecurity has always been a game of cat and mouse, and, in addition to using machine learning models to analyze behavior, security experts are using deception techniques, such as putting up fake targets, to thwart increasingly sophisticated attacks. While bad actors are using AI and automation themselves to build payloads, malicious documents, and evasion tactics, strategies like deception allow us to change the game and force attackers to do things manually. Anything we can do to slow down attackers is a win.


Read other blogs in the "2020s" series:

The Decade that Tears Down LANs, WANs, VPNs, and Firewalls by Jay Chaudhry, Zscaler Founder and CEO

The 5G Frontier by Patrick Foxhoven, Zscaler Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Emerging Technologies

Big, New Threats and a New Kind of Identity Politics by Stan Lowe, Zscaler Global CISO

An IoT Bonanza by Deepen Desai, Zscaler Vice President of Security Research 

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